The Givens Performing Arts Center, as part of its annual season will host The 4th Annual River People Music and Culture Fest. This is a gathering of both nationally-renowned and local artists that showcase American Indian music and culture. The performance will feature The Ulali Project known for its contributions to the soundtrack of the film Smoke Signals and their musical appearance on the Tonight Show. Charly Lowry, who is a member of Dark Water Rising, Layla Locklear, a member of Lakota John and Kin are local performers who will also perform.
One of the most exciting new performers this year is Star Nayea who has won multiple awards for her powerful and moving music. Nayea began her music career at an early age. It was born from struggle, but is incredibly positive. “When I was 5, I started with music because it made me feel uplifted, happy and, in a way, untouchable. When I was young I suffered abuse but the music saved me and enabled me to latch on to who I was truly supposed to be. I was adopted by a family of non-natives and they were abusive. The music removed me and healed me. I loved the way music made me feel and I knew that the rest of the world must have probably caught on,” she says.
Nayea uses her music as far more than entertainment. She uses it as a tool to reach out and help heal struggling Native people, children in particular. She brings the healing and uplifting power of music to the communities through music camps. She explains her approach by saying, “Not every native child will have my life, but sadly many native children who live on reservations have things that they are battling. Some have trouble at home, bullying at school, depression or families that are not functioning correctly. These problems are heavy on a child. Also in Indian Country we have a high rate of suicides, so I try to concentrate on communities that are reeling from suicide. Some of the communities are traditional and some are very religious, but despite differences, music is one thing that connects us all. It heals all and brings joy to all.”
During her performance, Nayea will be joined by a group of local Lumbee youth.
“I am coming to the community one week before the festival and working with the Lumbee youth. We will have a daily music camp where I will work with them on writing and recording.
“We will work together to craft one song. I wish we could do more, but we have limited time and I think it would be better for us all to join together to create one beautiful song that embodies who they are and what they want to say. Then they will get on stage and sing this song with me,” she said.
The festival is on April 26 at 6 p.m. at the Givens Performing Arts Center. The center is located at 1 University Drive in Pembroke. Children under five are free and tickets are $10 for adults or $5 for students with a valid ID. For more information visit www.unc.edu/gpac of call 910-521-6634.
Photo: Star Nayea, who has won multiple awards for her powerful and moving music, is set to perform at the event.